When you help a frail elderly or disabled person to live at home - you're a caregiver.
Most older people live healthy, active lives, but some need help to do for themselves. As a caregiver you may help someone with such tasks as shopping, bathing, cooking, cleaning, climbing stairs or lifting things.
Times are changing
Care at home used to be given mostly by husbands or wives or their adult daughters. Today, people are living longer and more women work outside the home, so parents and teenagers must work together to care for frail older people.
Being a caregiver is something you probably never expected. Few are trained to be caregivers, yet there is much you can learn to make caring easier.
- Do I feel good about my situation?
- Do I talk to my parents about it?
- Have my attitude and feelings changed toward the person I help care for?
- Am I depressed, confused, angry or guilty about my situation?
Whatever your answer, you're going through what most caregivers experience, at any age.
You're Not Alone
Great-grandma had a stroke. She can't talk or write. I try to help her but I don't know how much she understands or how she feels. Is she angry? Happy? I don't talk to her much anymore.
I miss out on school activities because I have to go home and stay with my grandfather. I like him, but I can't go out with my friends. I think I'm missing out on being a teenager. So Mom can spend time helping her parents, I watch my little brother. It's not fair.
If you see your own situation in these comments by high-school teens, YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
How You React is Probably Not Unusual
It's normal that caring can produce a confusing mix of emotions. You may be troubled by feelings you didn't expect -while you feel love and concern, you may feel anger or resentment, sadness or grief, helplessness or embarrassment. It's normal to have these feelings; it's important to do something about them.
Talk, Talk, Please Talk
Let your parents know what you think about your family situation. Parents can get so involved in caregiving that they may not realize what others in the family are going through. Your family may not be able to change the situation but together you can become more sensitive to each other's feelings and needs. Talk to clergy, a teacher, counselor, nurse, or a friend.
UP is Part of the Answer
UP - Understanding and Patience are vital. A lot happens when a family takes care of an older person. Vacation or entertainment plans can get put on hold. Tempers can get short. Misunderstandings occur. Children may feel that their parents no longer have time for them. Teens are called on to do things they never dreamed they must do. Like yourself, your parents and the person who needs care are under pressure. Try to get them to understand your situation, and learn more about their's.
What's In It For You?
Caregiving can bring out the best in you. You can learn much about yourself while taking responsibility for the care of others. You can learn about your emotions, how to recognize and handle them. And, you have opportunities to develop relationships that go beyond the typical teen-adult roles. Best of all, you have the chance to experience things that will be a source of gratifying memories.
GET THE HELP YOU NEED
Others also care. Clear-cut family roles help everyone know what they should do for the ill or disabled person. Encourage your family to get together and talk. In this family meeting develop goals, share information and feelings and plan for changes.
Your local office for the aging can help you and your family find help for your caregiving situation. The office for the aging has special programs and services. They can provide counseling, home delivered meals, transportation, legal advice, and services in the home such as home health aides, homemakers and visiting nurses. Call your local office. Explain your situation and tell them you need help.